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After 26 weeks and more than 4,000 entries, selecting the victor of our travel photography competition was no mean feat for the judges: The Sunday Times chief portrait photographer, Francesco Guidicini; the editor of Travel, Martin Hemming; and Jim Millward of Audley Travel.


Monk at Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh, India by Naomi Roberts

Congratulations to our winner, Naomi Roberts, whose shot of a monk doing mountaintop gymnastics at the Lamayuru monastery in Ladakh, India, was, said the judges, bursting with energy. “This is a very special picture. It’s so unusual,” Guidicini says.

Hemming agrees: “We are sent a lot of portraits of monks, most a bit worthy and serious. This is fun and human.”


'Star Lords', Central Kalahari National Park, Botswana by Robert Shadforth

In second place is Robert Shadforth’s photo of a night beneath the Milky Way in the Central Kalahari National Park, Botswana. “This has a real travel tale to tell,” Millward says. “I love the wide angle and the way it captures the light of the campfire, but also the huge night sky unfurling above.”


Bull elephant, Namibia Taken by John Platt

John Platt managed to capture the sheer force of an enormous bull elephant charging in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, and it wins him third place. “I like it because there’s so much happening — mud shooting into the sky, gazelles scattering, and a real sense of danger and power,” Guidicini says.

Our three winners receive a trip of a lifetime to either Mexico, Australia or Burma. We would like to congratulate all our weekly winners and thank everyone that entered. There will be three more holidays to be won when the competition reopens in the spring.

Weekly winners

This week's winner, taken by James Muir

Sunrise, dune 45, Namibia

Taken by James Muir

I had spent about 45 minutes on top of the dune during the sunrise, snapping away trying to get the perfect shot. As the sun rose it looked amazing as peoples' feet stepped in the perfectly smooth sand. This shot is one of a series taken on continuous high shutter settings. I had to have a very fast shutter speed and as wide aperture as possible to capture the exact moment her feet were submerged in sand. It actually turned out to be one of my favourite shots from the entire six month trip around Africa. You see a lot of images of elephants, hippos, and lions, but I think the shot I got on the dune is very unique and quite special to me. It really encapsulates the fun and freedom of travelling and the unexpected beauty you find all over Africa.

This week's winner, taken by Ray Hems

'Jump for my love', Hokkaido, Japan

Taken by Ray Hems

This image was taken at the Tsurui Ito Crane Sanctuary. Several hours of patient waiting in sub-zero temperatures were rewarded when one pair of birds relocated to the brow of a hill. For a few seconds only they performed a graceful ballet, leaping high in the air and arching their wings in unison. To capture such a fleeting moment some distance away I needed a fast shutter speed and frames per second, and a long telephoto lens. I used a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 200-400 mm f/4 lens extended to 400 mm, on a tripod. Camera settings were 1/1600 at f/5.6, ISO 200 and the maximum frame rate for the D3 of 9 fps.

This week's winner, taken by Jake Brass

A monitor lizard, Baku National Park, Borneo

Taken by Jake Brass

I wanted to illustrate the range of colours found on this monitor lizard so a low ISO to generate such clarity was my highest priority. To actually take the picture, I followed the monitor from the Bako visitor centre in Borneo. I remember my family taking a break from the hot sun while I became distracted by this beautiful monitor. I ended up lying on the floor perpendicular to where I predicted it would go, luckily the monitor followed my plan and walked straight past me, allowing for the action shot I'd planned in my head to come to fruition.

This week's winner, taken by Robert Shadforth

'Star Lords', Botswana

Taken by Robert Shadforth

This photo was taken whilst camping in the Central Kalahari Desert on a recent trip to Botswana. I only had two possible nights to photograph the Milky Way because of the timings of the moon rise, so I set up rather hurriedly and took a number of photos. This one was taken at ISO 1600 with a 30 second exposure on my Canon EOS 6D, using a manual focus Samyang 2.8/14mm lens — a perfect lens for night sky photography. I like how it shows the freedom of camping under the stars in the African bush.

This week's winner, taken by Andy Howe

'Four of a kind', Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya

Taken by Andy Howe

We spotted four giraffes busy grazing on Acacia tree’s down by Ntiakntiak river. We stayed and watched them for a while, then decided to move further up the river to an area where we knew a lioness and three small cubs where in residence. I was aware of the fading light but not aware of the dramatic sky line that was unfolding behind me! All of a sudden Jimmy’s excited voice was ringing in my ears ‘Look Andy look! we need to move now’. We were then confronted with four of the Mara’s finest, on the top of the ridge with a backdrop of the most amazing red Mara sky I’ve ever seen. The whole scene was taken with a Canon 1DX MKII : Canon 200-400mm +1.4 extender: f4 @200mm: 1/1000: ISO 3200: minus two stops.

This week's winner, taken by Dan Rostron

'Seal of approval', Namibia

Taken by Dan Rostron

I didn’t think we’d stay for very long at the Cape Cross seal colony. However, after walking around for 10 minutes, I realised what a photogenic place it was. I climbed over onto a wooden walkway, which provided unbroken views of the colony. When I started lining up for the shot, the main seal turned towards me and let out a huge groan – giving me the perfect opportunity to take the photo. It was taken on a Canon EOS M6, 30mm lens. Exposure time 1/1,000, aperture F 16.

This week's winner, taken by Jim Wall

'Blast from the past', Valletta, Malta

Taken by Jim Wall

While on a cruise we stopped off in Valletta, Malta for a day, and I had decided that I would like to see the firing of the midday gun that took place on the Saluting Battery, overlooking the harbour. If you pay the small entrance fee to the Saluting Battery, it enables you to get up close and I coughed up. I used a Nikon D300S with a Nikon 16-85mm lens, shooting at 1/1250 at ISO 200 at f7.1 I knew you only get one chance, so I took a burst of five shots and it was the very first one that got the image that I was hoping for.

This week's winner, taken by Katie Grimshaw

'Arch rivals', Arches National Park, Utah

Taken by Katie Grimshaw

The photo was from my recent amazing trip to the Grand Canyon and National Parks in West USA. It was an opportunistic moment at the end of a day in Arches National Park, having just been on a hike to see Delicate Arch, followed by exploring Double Arch. I took it with my GoPro Hero 5 Black. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and winning the competition makes it all the more memorable. I love having the opportunity to share such awesome scenery with others.

This week's winner, taken by Roger Clark

'Backs to Winter', South Georgia

Taken by Roger Clark

I asked myself, if I had just one week left to live, where would I want to go? The answer was easy for me - visit the Antarctic to observe and photograph large Penguins, so we booked a trip to South Georgia. One afternoon I was about half-way to the zodiacs when a sudden snow squall coming from the direction of the mountains accelerated viciously across the beach. Incredibly a nearby group of Kings turned their backs on the weather and huddled together for protection. Although I was cold I couldn’t resist this rare photographic opportunity to record behaviour normally associated with the Winter months.

This week's winner, taken by Mark Bishop

'Go with the flow', Skradinski Buk waterfall, Krka National Park, Croatia

Taken by Mark Bishop

I planned my trip for the start of autumn when the leaves were already changing colour but it was still close enough to summer to stand a good chance of capturing the sunlight dancing on the water. I shot at a high shutter speed, from memory 1/1000 sec, to freeze the movement of the water. Finally I waited for people to enter the frame in the shaded area bottom left to provide scale and perspective. Equipment used was an Olympus E-M1 Mk2 with 12-100mm Zuiko PRO lens.

This week's winner, taken by John Platt

Bull elephant, Namibia

Taken by John Platt

In Etosha National Park you can do self-drive safaris. This means you can wait patiently for wildlife to come to you. We parked up at a waterhole and sat watching and waiting for action. It was not long before this massive bull elephant put in an appearance. It was the end of the dry season and the waterhole was too big a temptation. The photograph was taken using a Nikon D500 with a 200-500 lens attached. Due to the size of the subject I only needed to zoom to 240mm.

This week's winner, taken by Gary Pemberton

'Hit the rocks', Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK

Taken by Gary Pemberton

I intentionally delayed my visit to Stonehenge to the latter part of the day when the visitors were thinning but still giving the opportunity at sunset to capture the sunburst through the stones with the vibrant colours of an autumn evening skies beyond. The wide angle shot has purposely placed the stones to the left to highlight the overwhelming scale and power of the henge in context to the diminutive people on the right of the image.

This week's winner, taken by Fary Ashfar

'Rush hour', 50 miles north of Reykjavik, Iceland

Taken by Fary Ashfar

I specifically wanted to capture this waterfall to show how desolate Iceland appears in its untouched beauty. This was an area far from the usual iconic photos that are so frequently being produced and there were no other tourists or habitation around. The sun was at a low angle and I tried not to produce a very low shutter speed as so often now seen but wanted to show both detail and at the same time the majestic flow of water. I used a Hasselblad H4D-50 with an HCD 35-90mm lens with polariser filter.

This week's winner, taken by Claire Waring

'Glacier stint', Canada

Taken by Claire Waring

Sailing up the east coast of Baffin Island with its dramatic landscapes, we reached the edge of the ice where the melted areas formed beautiful patterns across the surface. We spotted this polar bear in the distance. This was the closest we got before it moved away. The image gives me a powerful reminder of how vulnerable this species and the rest of the world is to the threat of climate change.

This week's winner, taken by Matt Naylor

'Baby Fat', Chobe River, Botswana

Taken by Matt Naylor

We were in a boat waiting for sunset and had seen the hippos, particularly this one young male who was essentially playing up for the cameras. We watched him roll around in the mud, eventually he reared up a little and opened his mouth, which is when I got this shot. I’m not sure if he was yawning, again it was more of a show, a bit of youthful bravado. Technically it was just making sure the shutter speed stayed high enough as the light was quickly fading, boosting the ISO helped with that.

This week's winner, taken by Kelly Beckta

Camel racing, Qatar

Taken by Kelly Beckta

Camel racing, traditionally known as the sport of the sheiks, continues in Qatar. A fiercely competitive and expensive sport, it's a definite must see. This very friendly handler was all smiles as he lead the camels back to the stables after training them in the early morning.

This week's winner, taken by Tony Cowburn

'A beach of one's own', Salmon Holes, Western Australia

Taken by Tony Cowburn

I stumbled upon Salmon Holes Beach while exploring Torndirrup National Park, near Albany. I loved the rugged scenery and the wide beach and I took a number of shots from elevated positions before climbing down and wandering along the beach. The large outcrop of boulders in the middle of the beach is in stark contrast to the wide expanse of sand, and I felt the rocks would make an interesting foreground for a very wide angle landscape shot. My son is included at the far end of the beach to provide a sense of scale.

This week's winner, taken by Stephen Young

‘Peace of Mind’, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Taken by Stephen Young

I was with a small group of people exploring the temples at Angkor Wat. Two young boy monks we met there were quite happy for us to photograph them and this young monk happened to be staring out of the temple as I walked by. As we were inside, and I wanted to keep the ISO low, I braced myself against a column, framed the image and captured two shots before he walked off.

This week's winner, taken by Martin Bagg

'Light conversation', Vietnam

Taken by Martin Bagg

We were on our way back to our hotel after a lovely evening in the old quarter of Hoi An. There are coloured lanterns all over the streets with the beautiful custard yellow French Colonial Era buildings. I glanced across at the shop as we walked past, hesitated and walked on, but I knew something had just sparked my interest in the setting. I walked back, framed up and took the shot. I had to push the ISO to 3200 to enable me to take it handheld at 1/80th second, the limit for my old Canon 5D Mkii. With the help of Lightroom I was able to get the noise levels to an acceptable limit.

This week's winner, taken by Harry Benson

'Dive of your life', Lefkada, Greece

Taken by Harry Benson

As I had to swim out from the boat, I risked taking my Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo phone, holding it carefully above the water. I started from the rocks with a few photos of my son Charlie diving. But I soon realised that the best angle would be from low down in the water. I knew I’d framed the shot well but I got lucky with the timing. The morning light and blue colours in the Ionian sea are amazing.

This week's winner, taken by Hugo Pennant

Zebra, Andersson's Camp, Namibia.

Taken by Hugo Pennant

I took this shot at Andersson's Camp in Namibia. The location is very special and unique due to the fact that they have an underground hide located ten feet from the watering hole which allows one to get up close to these animals at ground level. I was there with my camera for roughly three hours a day trying to capture the best picture of the wild zebra and the other types of game. Luckily I got the perfect timing of the group collectively drinking. I used a Nikon D5600 with a 28-300 lens.

This week's winner, taken by Naomi Roberts

Monk at Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh, India

Taken by Naomi Roberts

We met this monk by chance at our hotel and he offered to show us around the Lamayuru monastery. He was born in Lamayuru but now lives in India where he is a Lama (teacher). He was great fun to be with, and spontaneously did this yoga pose whilst we were admiring the view in the late afternoon light. I am still in touch with Konchok and he will be delighted when I tell him that my photo has won this week's competition.

This week's winner, taken by Nicola Dash

'Holiday flick', USA

Taken by Nicola Dash

The photo was taken whilst my daughter Grace (14) her sister and I were playing around, We had been in the water for about an hour on the North Naples coast, Vanderbilt Beach, waiting for the sun to go down. It was such a beautiful evening and I just said lets see if we can get a picture of you flicking your hair. It was shot on my iPhone 7 using photo burst; no filter or enhancement at all. It was actually the first shot and we were totally shocked at how well it came out.

This week's winner, taken by Philip Simnett

'Red-eye flight', Sri Lanka

Taken by Philip Simnett

We were in a safari vehicle in Yala National Park and the driver stopped, and turned off his engine, to let an 'iguana' cross the track. This little bird was sitting on a branch in a nearby tree - so it was definitely an opportunistic shot. It was quite early in the morning so I already had the ISO setting turned up in order to get a reasonably fast shutter speed to capture anything we saw.

This week's winner, taken by Roy Morris

Horsewoman, birdcage and church ruins in Trinidad De Cuba

Taken by Roy Morris

I was trying to capture a picture of the man carrying the birdcage against the backdrop of the ruined church, whilst trying the include the lady I assumed to be his wife, sewing on the grass. Just as he stopped talking to his wife and started walking over to the tree to hang the birdcage there, the girl on horseback appeared and started riding down the hill.

This week's winner, taken by Tony Cowburn

'Dawn Patrol', Perth, Australia

Taken by Tony Cowburn

My son and I took a ‘city tour’ in Perth and I spotted the Elizabeth Quay Bridge and thought the beautiful shape could make a great photograph. I set off early the next morning before dawn and spent some time looking at different angles before settling on this view and setting the camera up on a tripod with a 16mm ultra wide angle lens. I then waited, but I only got a few shots with lone joggers. Then, just as I was about to pack up, the three cyclists came racing across the bridge heading towards the rising sun.